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Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Myths and lies about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (DADT) is not a "gay" issue - it is a human rights issue. It is an issue about the freedom and liberties granted to our citizens by our Constitution. Since the implementation of this policy of discrimination, there have been over 14,000 soldiers discharged from the service.

The statements made this morning by Senators Jeff Sessions (Alabama) and John McCain (Arizona) prove our country still has a long way to go when it comes to equality. A filibuster on the Defense Bill is not only harming our military, but is in direct violation of our Constitution, and a breach of the oath they took when they assumed office. Way back on May 3, 2007, I wrote why McCain will never be President and I guess he still hasn't learned from his failures. His actions are a betrayal to those serving in the military and dishonoring our veterans. Here is why:

Whether joining the military or serving in public office, service to our country always begins with a simple oath: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice - So help me god.

Senator George LeMieux (Florida) wanted to debate the issues, but a debate can not begin until they vote to move forward with the bill. You can't discuss and amend the text of a bill during a filibuster. Many want to delay a vote until after elections, but elections are not a valid excuse for not taking action. If we can't depend on our leaders to make tough decisions at election time, then they don't deserve to be in office after the elections.

Many false statements are being made about this policy and none of their reasons given to keep the policy are valid. The words they are saying is simply rhetoric that doesn't hold water. Unfortunately, it is also rhetoric that we have heard before.

Excuse #1 - Gays are a threat to security because they can be blackmailed by the enemy. False! It is this policy that is a threat to our national security. If gays are allowed to serve openly, then their sexuality can't be used to blackmail them. By forcing soldiers to hide their sexual orientation, that gives our enemies the leverage to threaten them.

Excuse #2 - Repeal would encourage misconduct. False! The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) already defines misconduct. Those regulations apply to all of our servicemembers, regardless of their sexual orientation. A crime is a still a crime whether DADT is in effect or not.

Excuse #3 - Repeal would negatively affect unit cohesion and morale. False! We are one of the last countries to address this issue. All of our allies allow gays to serve in the military and they all experienced a boost in unit cohesion and morale. It is the DADT policy that negatively impacts the military by forcing servicemembers to lie about their personal lives. Those lies create distrust among soldiers and repeal of DADT would eliminate those lies that erode integrity.

Excuse #4 - The repeal of DADT doesn't belong in the Defense Authorization bill. False! The DADT policy was originally enacted as part of a Defense Authorization bill, so why can't it be repealed in the same manner?

Excuse #5 - Objections to repeal based on morals. That is not a valid excuse. The military has a tough time recruiting the best and brightest, yet they discharged over 14,000 trained and qualified soldiers for being gay. In order to reach their recruiting goals, they have actually lowered the moral standards of the military. While turning away good people who are willing to serve their country, they have been issuing "moral waivers' in order to recruit convicted felons. The low morals of some serving in the military are not a result of the DADT policy.

Excuse #6 - Repeal shouldn't take place until completion of surveys and studies. False! Studies are not necessary because we can look at how Europe has integrated gays into their military. Further studies are a waste of our tax dollars since so many countries have already worked through these issues. Surveys of the military are irrelevant. If a survey was conducted prior to racial integration - what would have been the results? If a survey was taken prior to integrating women into the military - what would have been the results? Human rights should never be based upon opinions or votes.

When I joined the Navy on October 1st, 1991 - I took the same oath that appears at the top of this message. I entered the service two months before women were allowed to serve in combat, and much of the rhetoric being spewed today were the same poor excuses given back then to keep women out of the "jobs only for men." I was part of the last group to graduate boot camp before they integrated females. When I served on the USS Stout (DDG-55) there were no women serving aboard my ship. Today, my ship is home to many women who are serving effectively and honorably. Many of them hold high ranking positions and the team aboard the ship is just as strong as it was when I served there.

Just weeks ago, a federal court ruled DADT to be unconstitutional. Both the court and President Obama can change the DADT policy, but the proper place to fix it is in the same legislative body that created it. A filibuster on the Defense Authorization Bill is only punishing the military and their families by holding up the funds they need to do their job. I hope the Republicans will muster the courage to look past their personal views and do the right thing by moving forward. Repeal of DADT is good for our military, it is good for our country, and the only legal way to uphold the principles defined in our Constitution.

Several people have asked, "What if the repeal never happens?" My answer is the same response I give about the issue of gay marriage. I believe that with rights, come responsibilities. If a group of people are denied rights, they should not be held to the same responsibilities. If gays can't serve in the military, they shouldn't have to pay the taxes that fund it. Gays without children shouldn't have to pay taxes that go toward education. If they can't share home ownership, they shouldn't have to pay property taxes. I think you get my point....

I have a message to all of those fighting against the repeal: As a marine who was discharged under DADT once said, "It is never too late to do the right thing."

And as Lady Gaga said in her speech at the repeal rally in Maine yesterday:

I am here because Don't Ask, Don't Tell is wrong. It's unjust and fundamentally it is against all that we stand for as Americans.

John McCain and other Republican Senators are using homophobia as a defense in their argument.

Doesn't it seem to be that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is backwards? Doesn't it seem to be based on the Constitution of the United States that we are penalizing the wrong soldier? Doesn't it seem to you that we should send home the prejudiced? The straight soldier who hates the gay soldier? The straight soldier whose performance in the military is affected because he is homophobic. The straight soldier who has prejudice in his heart in the space where the military asks him to hold our core American values. He instead holds and harbors hate, and he gets to stay and fight for our country? He gets the honor, but we gay soldiers who harbor no hatred, no prejudice, no phobia were sent home? I am here today because I would like to propose a new law. A law that sends home the soldier who has the problem. Our new law is called, "If you don't like it - go home." A law that discharges the soldier with the issue. The law that discharges the soldier with the real problem. The homophobic soldier that has a real negative effect on unit cohesion. A law that sends home the homophobe, a law that sends home the prejudiced, a law that doesn't prosecute the gay soldier who fights for equality with no problems, but prosecutes the straight soldier who fights against it. To be fair, it sends home the straight soldier who fights for some freedoms, for some equalities, but not for the equality of the gay. He or she is the one under this new proposition who will be discharged for disrupting the military. If you are not committed to perform with excellence as a United States soldier because you don't believe in full equality - go home. If you are not honorable enough to fight without prejudice - go home. If you are not capable of keeping your oath to the armed forces to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic - then go home.

Should the military be allowed to treat Constitutional rights like a cafeteria? Should soldiers and the government be able to pick and choose what we are fighting for in the Constitution? I wasn't aware of this ambiguity in our Constitution - I though the Constitution was ultimate. I thought equality was non-negotiable. I thought equality meant everyone. Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell - or go home.

Well said Gaga!

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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